Mr. Dee's Theater
main characters: Wesley, Scooter Dee
disclaimer: If you recognize them, they aren't mine. Scooter is a muppet, and therefore legal rights go to Henson Puppetry, Wesley is the creation of Joss Whedon & his writers for the BtVS and A:tS television shows.
distribution: if you want this bit of insanity, just let me know.
notes: um, let's just say sort of AU after Wesley started working at AI, the Muppet Theater has been closed.
Wesley glanced at the paper again, and tried to ignore the chill that flowed down his spine. There was no reason for that chill, the weather was fine, the sun was out, his clothing was warm enough, the area was reasonably nice, and there weren’t any breezes. He still had the feeling that there was something wrong… It probably related to the details of Lanomer’s death. Or perhaps the indications that whoever was responsible had taken a long, hard look at Watcher journals, and how did they get those anyhow?
The address was clear, Scooter Dee at 14 Terrace View Apartments, 974 Orchard Lane. This was the right apartment building, and the right door. There was a little mat outside the door, one with a picture of a flower pot and a ribbon like border, without any writing at all. He didn’t know if that was coincidence, or if Scooter knew about a vampire’s need for an invitation before entering a residence. Trying to convince himself that he wasn’t delaying, Wesley knocked on the door.
“Just a minute!”
The voice was a stressed sounding tenor, the sort that Wesley associated with young men trying to take on too many responsibilities at once. His own must have sounded similar while he was studying to be a Watcher. More critically, there were traces of the Midwestern accent, used by many American newscasters and a number of politicians. Not the sound of someone local. Even less like the sound of his own home.
The door opened, revealing someone that definitely wasn’t human. Wesley assumed that this was Scooter Dee. He was short, no taller than a six or seven year old child, with a large oval head and a tuft of bright red hair. Plastic framed glasses magnified wild looking round eyes, and stubby fingers clenched the side of the door. He looked much more human than the memorable Miss Piggy. “Can I help you?”
“My name is Wesley Wyndham-Price, and I work for Angel Investigations,” Wesley began. “May I come inside?”
Scooter frowned, and then opened the door wider, making a sweeping gesture with his hand rather than issuing a verbal invitation despite the bright sunlight. “What did you want to talk about?”
“In the investigation of one particular case, we became aware that you were once involved with a theater,” Wesley spoke cautiously. He tried not to read too much into the way he’d been waved inside. It could have nothing to do with vampires at all, sometimes being Watcher-trained led people to read things that weren’t there into behaviors. “Regrettably, Miss Piggy did not have your current contact information.”
“Piggy? We talked on the phone just last month!” Scooter Dee frowned, and then shook his head. “You might as well sit down.”
“Thank you,” Wesley sank into the low chair, and tried to ignore the shiver that went down his spine again. “We had noticed that several of the people we talked to were less than forthcoming.”
“Nobody had much to say?” Mr. Dee had an odd expression, not quite a smirk or a frown.
“Actually, there was a great deal said that could be summarized as ‘how dreadful’ and ‘please let the Count still be on his medication’, but little that was of substantial use to our investigation,” Wesley sighed. “Did you know the Count as well, Mr. Dee?”
“Only in passing,” he shrugged his shoulders, and studied Wesley from across a cluttered coffee table. “Kermit worked with him a lot more than I did. I think the Count did some of the paperwork. But the real stuff, handling the critical details? That was me and Kermit. It was great.”
Wesley nodded, a corner of his mind noting that this sounded like a different version of things than the ones they’d heard before. “Did you arrange the acts, or did Kermit?”
“That was me,” Scooter Dee’s expression could only be called proud. “I found the best special guests. Vincent Price. Ozzy Osbourne. Liza Minelli. Mark Hamil. Christopher Reeve. James Coburn. Blondie. Sylvester Stallone. I convinced the regulars to join the theater. Everything was brilliant.”
“That is a very impressive guest list,” Wesley murmured.
“That’s only the tip of the iceberg! We had amazing guests, and fascinating regulars! Things were fabulous. Chaotic, but fabulous,” with a small sigh, he leaned back in his chair. “It was the Health Department that ruined everything. They closed us down, something about explosions, and Gonzo’s chickens posing a health risk for the area…”
“Is that sort of thing a common problem for independent theatrical groups?” Wesley wished that Cordelia was here. Despite having no comprehensible filing system, the lovely woman knew theater.
“It depends on how touchy the people running the health department are.” Yellow fists clenched and Scooter Dee continued, “I tried to keep things going, and if Kermit had only listened to me, things would have been just fine!”
“I have known many people who regret how things unfolded in the past,” Wesley offered, his instincts screaming that there was something wrong. He didn’t know what – Scooter Dee wasn’t a deadly species of demon, there was no terrible sorcery about, no visible weapons… “in that, you are not alone.”
“Maybe things will go better this time,” the words were quiet.
“Pardon?” Wesley felt confused.
“With the theater, I mean. Now that Lanomer’s dead, what other option will they have? I mean, there aren’t very many people willing to hire pigs, and I can imagine what would happen if someone tried to ask Piggy to mud wrestle or work as an exotic dancer,” Scooter snickered. “She’d hit him so hard his face would be backwards.”
“I can’t see her doing either of those professionally,” Wesley agreed.
“Things will be much better this time,” Scooter spoke again, steepling his fingers. “I’ll make sure of it.”
Wesley paused, the hairs on the back of his neck rising in unmistakable warning. He felt like he was missing something obvious, and spoke with caution, “Have you a location then? For a new theater, I mean. Not to mention… well, I have no idea what sort of permits or legal paperwork are required for that sort of thing.”
“Everything’s ready to go as soon as I can get enough actors,” The smile was somehow terribly wrong. “Mr. Price? How will they handle the Count? I mean, considering what he is, I don’t think the police could deal with him.”
“I’m sure that all the necessary precautions will be taken,” Wesley murmured. “The Count is not someone to take lightly.”
“Of course not! He’s crazy,” the round eyes widened. “There was this one time that he started to sing… the whole theater was echoing with opera for hours and hours. And who plays the pipe-organ now days anyhow? You just can’t trust someone like that. It’s been obvious for years that his sanity was just hanging by a thread.”
“Of course,” Wesley murmured.
“I must thank you for your time, Mr. Dee, but I have a few more stops to make this afternoon. There’s a matter of a stolen car, a gambling ring, and the possibility of a kidnapped or perhaps run away child of… well, I really shouldn’t say who the father is in that case,” Wesley forced back the rising panic, and shook the yellow hand before walking slowly out of the apartment.
He forced himself to walk slowly down the hall, out of the building, and down the block. He changed busses twice, running the conversation over in his mind. Something had set off warnings in his mind, and he trusted his instincts enough that there had to have been something wrong to cause that. Something not just a little odd but gravely and horribly wrong.
Not until he walked back into the lobby of the Hyperion did Wesley freeze, suddenly feeling frozen from the bones out. “How did he know I was investigating Mr. Lanomer’s death? I only ever said I was investigating a case. How could he be sure it was that? Why not think that Miss Piggy was in some sort of sex scandal, or Kermit involved with eco-terrorists?”
Rushing towards his office to jot everything down, Wesley finally asked himself another question, “Why is he so certain that the theater will start again?”
Wesley gathered the notes from his own interviews, and frowned. He needed more than this to find all the pieces.
Seeking out Cordelia, Wesley finally found her in the kitchen, sipping at a fruit smoothie. “Cordelia, I need the other interviews of the… well, the Muppet Theater people. Kermit. Gonzo. Whatever Angel found talking to the Count. Something isn’t adding up right.”
“Particulars?” Cordelia tapped one finger on her smoothie glass.
“Just what is entailed in running a theater, and how long does it normally take to set up such a thing?” Wesley paused, and added, “And how important is it to have particular names to draw audiences? The impression that I was given was that the paperwork was taken care of and only a few personalities signing remained.”
“There’s a lot more than just getting the actors,” Cordelia tilted her head, and added, “A good stage crew is also important. Set design, costuming, make up, lighting and sound technicians… everything. Not that I had a good appreciation of that when I first came to LA.”
“Oh bloody hell…” Wesley tensed, the pieces falling into place. He wasn’t quite certain how to explain the logic and present the evidence, but he knew what had happened. And it was horrible.
End Muppet Contracts 9: Mr. Dee’s Theater.